Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a short post that was originally published back on February 5, 2016 and has been revised.
In celebration of the slaughter of the Protestant Huguenots in Paris on the eve of St. Bartholomew’s feast day, August 23-24, 1572, pope Gregory XIII (aka Ugo Boncompagni) directed the pictured medal to be struck, which featured an “exterminating angel” striking the Huguenots and the caption, UGONOTTORUM STRAGES, (“Overthrow of the Huguenots”). Gregory XIII also commissioned three frescoes commemorating the massacre for the Sala Regia Hall at the Vatican, where they remain today. The estimated death toll varies, but some historians put the number of Protestants who were murdered in the violence that spread across France at 30,000. Those Protestants who survived the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and national “religiouscide” were persecuted in Catholic church-supported “dragonnades” and forced to flee to other nations.
There’s no debate that both Protestant and Catholic European monarchs engaged in wars of expansion and political control, using religion as an excuse, but how is it that a pope, allegedly guided by the Holy Spirit and supposedly infallible in all important matters of faith and morals, could have celebrated the wholesale slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent victims? In addition, by sanctioning the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the pope was encouraging further violence against Protestants.
On Aug. 24, 1997, pope John Paul II offered a semi-apology for the Paris massacre (see here), but if every pope is infallible when acting as shepherd of the Catholic church, how could Gregory XIII have celebrated an event, which clearly violated the teachings of Jesus Christ? Why did the Catholic church wait 425 years before it apologized for this atrocity? What are Catholics to deduce when one pope apologizes for the actions of another pope?
Better to follow God’s Word in all things than to follow man-made religious institutions and traditions.
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Matthew 15:8-9